The scene at Flour Bakery + Cafe on a Sunday morning can be summed up with a single photograph:
Chaos. Unmanaged, unmannered get-out-of-my-way Boston-style chaos.
There's a reason for this.
Reason 1: There's nothing quite like Flour, a fun and hip baked-goods heavy cafe developed and run by pastry chef Joanne Chang et al, in the South End, or, for that matter, in any other part of Boston, except in the Fort Point Channel area, which has its own Flour location.
Reason 2: On Sundays, Flour rolls out the specials - brioche donuts filled with vanilla creme or raspberry, maybe a red velvet cake, perhaps something else they've decided to do at the last minute. The donuts are good, but not quite as fabulous as those that came out of the Bouchon Bakery kitchen in NYC until they stopped making them. But since New York is so far away, and Bouchon no longer makes Boston Creme brioche donuts, these darling, very hand-made looking donuts are the best thing going in the high-end donut category in Boston.
Reason 3: Flour opens up much earlier than the surrounding brunch joints, so those who rise early have a single point of breakfast focus.
Reason 4: They don't manage the line very well at Flour. "Very well" is actually an overstatement. "Not at all" would be more accurate.
Fussing about chaos and lines aside, I had a wonderful cakey and donuty and sandwichy three-coffee breakfast there early-ish Sunday morning with my college classmate Glenn, who was visiting from the easily more foodie San Francisco (as it happens, Joanne Chang is also a classmate, but I never knew her at school, nor did Glenn).
Glenn, like me, travels with his camera (though you can't see, he's photographing our baked goods):
Here's what he was photographing: a sticky bun, a vanilla creme donut and our "we make it only every two weeks" uber-moist red velvet cake with buttercream:
The sticky buns were tasty. Best around? Maybe yes, maybe no, depends on how you like the texture of your dough. If you are more of a laminated dough type, they're not satisfying at all. But for those who love brioche, the recipe is spot-on. The recipe lives here.
Eventually it will be in her cookbook, which she is still testing recipes for.
Apparently there was some kind of celebrity chef contesty thing around sticky buns, but I can't stand celebrity chefs, so I'll just leave that for you to research if you care.
We also ordered egg sandwiches. The sandwiches were composed of a square of warm baked egg magic (egg and milk or half/half, baked in a pan, sliced), our choice of turkey, ham or bacon (I went with turkey), melted cheese, ripe tomatoes and greens on a brioche (what else) bun. They were heavenly. There was chew, there was velvet (egg souffle-like layer), there was salt, there was melt. Only thing missing was crunch, but I was okay without it.
While Glenn and I caught up and chatted about an old friend (the story is the stuff of the Lifetime Network, not really appropriate to repeat here), the line grew and grew and ebbed and grew again. Tables turned, we downed three coffees, and sensing it was time to go (no one pressed us to leave, but the unabating crowds were hint enough) we made our way out the door and down the street for a long walk amongst the South End's brownstones.
Flour Bakery + Cafe